As stated at the beginning of this exhibit, forests are self-willed complex systems that predate humans and are involved in essential global-level processes, independent of the services and goods they provide to humans. Urban developments represent the antithesis to forests: paved concrete islands characterized by higher heat than their surroundings, by significant water run off every time sewage systems get overwhelmed, by lack of wildlife and with poor air quality. In our imaginary, forests are in remote locations far away from cities and there is no doubt that the remaining primary virgin forests, as well as quasi-wild forests, older forests, vast forests need to be protected before it is too late. Often, native populations do not have the power and the political leverage to protect their forests, yet we all need these forests to maintain the earth’s biodiversity and to counter climate change. A global form of activism needs to advocate the preservation of these remote forests. At the same time, in most of the industrialized world urban sprawl has resulted in the progressive encroachment of forest habitats by humans creating what is now commonly referred as the wildland urban interface. This is where most of the world’s population will experience trees and will learn to appreciate the forest. In recent years, the concept of the urban forest has emerged: this is a critical hybrid ecosystems made up of trees planted and/or of survivors from relic forests in urban environments. The urban forest delivers essential ecosystem services in urban and suburban communities. In particular, urban forests also contribute to the storage and sequestration of carbon, provide shade and affect air humidity thus mitigating the urban heat island warming effect, have the capacity to absorb stormwater runoff, thus alleviating flood risk, support a significant wildlife and provide a myriad of recreational opportunities. It has also been proven scientifically that people living in greener cities are happier and live healthier lives. While we recognize that global issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity have to be addressed in non urban forests, urban forests represent a wonderful and democratic compromise to improve the lives of countless urban populations.` Urban forests also provide the perfect backdrop to share the beauty of trees with all people and to educate citizens about the essential importance of trees for the survival of the planet and for the well being of humankind. From the viewpoint of this writer, any effort to teach the importance of “greening” our planet to the larger urban and suburban audiences has a threefold effect. Planting a tree in an urban park may in fact help store greenhouse carbon, may create a healthier and more enjoyable city, and may sensitize both youngsters and adults about the urgency to protect, increase and improve our forested land. Man vs. nature? The figure below shows how the urban forest represents a unique opportunity to connect the two, and a stage to teach people the value of feral primary forests, no matter how far away they may be.
“The urban forest is a blessing to those who live in cities. Trees in the urban forest provide many services and offer opportunities for our children to learn their first lessons about nature, however they also lift our spirits by their mere presences.”
Joe Mc Bride
University of California at Berkeley
Director at the Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab in Berkeley and adjunct professor at the Environmental Science, Policy and Management Department of the University of California.
The figure schematically summarizes the four priorities needed to protect forests and the future of our planet: protection of primary and ancient forests, sound climate change-conscious reforestation projects , requalification of degraded forest by supporting forest people, carbon negative plantations that do not substitute existing or recently cut forests.
CESARE LEONARDI, FRANCA STAGI
Progettare con gli alberi (‘Designing with trees’), 1963-1997
Courtesy Archivio Architetto Cesare Leonardi, Modena
CESARE LEONARDI, FRANCA STAGIhttp://www.archivioleonardi.it/
The book entitled ‘L’Architettura degli Alberi’ (‘The Architecture of Trees’), written by Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi, was first published in 1982, the fruit of two decades’ worth of studying, travelling, photographic cataloguing and drawing over two hundred tree species. The knowledge developed thanks to this research was then applied to numerous projects, such as the Amendola Park in Modena (1972-1981), where trees and shrubs were selected and positioned based on the size of their foliage once mature, the way their colours changed with the passing of the seasons and the shade they projected onto the ground. ‘La Città degli Alberi’ (‘The City of Trees’) of Bosco Albergati in Castelfranco Emilia (1988-1996) is the perfect expression of Leonardi’s research into green spaces from 1983 onwards. This was the only place where he concretely implemented his ‘Non-Centred Reticular Structure’ (‘Struttura Reticolare Acentrata’), a polygonal, modular network created to design spaces in which humans and trees can live together in perfect harmony.
Quasi lo stesso verde (‘Almost the same green’), 2020
Mixed media, environmental dimension
Courtesy the artist
This installation interprets documents from the Figini and Pollini Fund present in the “900” Archive of the ‘MART’ - the modern and contemporary art museum of Trento and Rovereto, which gathers documents about trees and how they are used to design urban green areas. These two architects helped to design the Olivetti centre, in relation to which they shared the same opinion: “architects must design to a human scale, made to human measurements, remaining harmoniously in contact with nature: because factories are there for humans and not the other way around”. This modernist, utopian vision, defining nature like architecture, forms the basis of a new cultural approach to the human-nature relationship. It would appear essential to analyse this model if we wish to imagine the future.
NATURAL DISASTERS IN TRENTINO OVER THE PAST CENTURIES
Over the centuries, Trentino has often been hit by flooding, highlighting the extreme fragility of this area in the absence of forest cover. The great flood in September 1882 was particularly memorable, when a period of heavy rainfall accompanied by warm winds hit the central-eastern Alpine Arc, causing the snow that had fallen early to melt, with devastating effects on the local area and the local population. This disaster highlighted the area’s state of serious instability, made worse by the excessive exploitation of local forests. 1882 marked a turning point, encour- aging the launch of hydro-geological and hydraulic redevelopment measures, accompanied by an important commitment to reforestation.
Joseph BEUYS pianta il Coco De Mer – Diary of Seychelles – Coquille Blanche – Praslin Seychelles 24.121980, 1980
Photographic print, 40x50 cm
© Photo Buby Durini – Courtesy Archivio Storico De Domizio Durini
These photographs document some of the most significant moments of Joseph Beuys’ artistic experience. The first relates to the event held in the Seychelles on 24 December 1980, when Beuys planted a coconut and a Coco de Mer plant. The second immortalises the planting of the first oak inside the “Paradise Plantation” in Bolognano. This gesture was one of the most famous as part of the ‘Defence of Nature Operation’, and is linked to another historical initiative entitled ‘The 7000 Oaks’. The artist was invited to take part in the ‘Documenta VII’ exhibition and presented 7,000 basalt slabs which were to be replaced by the same number of oak trees between 1982 and 1987. A living work of art, an urban forest that is still growing and transforming even today. A declaration of intent that uses the act of planting to create artistic, social and environmental effects.
These images document the work carried out by the artist in 2008. For 365 consecutive days, Cecylia Malik climbed up a different tree in Krakow, taking a photograph to record the moment. The artist described her surreal project as follows: “I felt 100% myself while I was doing it. It was an extremely pleasant feeling and required very little effort. Every morning, I would put on my “tree outfit”: inexpensive, made up of colourful items, thin-soled shoes and red lipstick to make my face clearly visible. Then I’d head out to work, with my blouse full of pine needles or tree bark”. In 2017, she declared that almost half of the trees photographed had since been felled..
Associazione Italiana per la protezione delle piante e per favorire il rimboschimento (‘Italian Association for the protection of plants and to promote afforestation’)
The materials on display create a historic bridge with two events that took place in 1898: the “Pro Montibus Association for the protection of plants and to promote afforestation” was estab- lished in Turin and the first “Tree Festival” was held, celebrated in the gym of the Italian Alpine Club on Mount Cappuccini in Turin on 18 September of the same year, in the presence of “His Majesty King Umberto I”. This occasion led to a conference being held to raise awareness of the need to care for forests, trees and the mountain landscape as a whole. The official deeds from the conference are also on display at this exhibition, as is a document relating to the “Allonia” Alpine Garden and Arboretum, completed in 1902 on Mount Cappuccini in Turin, home to Italy’s National Mountain Museum.
Images and documents relating to the reforestation work carried out by Ermenegildo Zegna as part of this entrepreneur-patron’s “Progetto di bonifica integrale del bacino montano del Torrente Sessera” (“Integral reclamation project for the mountain basin of the Sessera river”), completed along the route of the ‘Panoramica Zegna’ road as it was built (1930-1960)
Courtesy Fondazione Zegna, Trivero (Biella)
Between the 1930s and the 1960s, with the help of skilled experts, technicians from the Italian State Forestry Corps and his team of workers, Ermenegildo Zegna created an extraordinary project to “breathe new life” into the mountains. The reforestation completed in the areas of Trivero, Portula and Mosso Santa Maria was a huge endeavour to look after the forest, following the large-scale deforestation that had been carried out between the 18th and 19th centuries to make space for pastures. Terms such as “planting”, “stability” and “thinning of the forests” feature often in the documents, reflecting Ermenegildo Zegna’s ecosystem-based vision of the mountain, which he saw as being a complex organism requiring regeneration.
Reproductions of the original materials have been printed on Stone Paper, thanks to the collaboration with L’Artistica Savigliano.
Reminescenza in sequoia, 2014
A sculpture in redwood, 230x130x80 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Doris Ghetta Gallery, Ortisei
Through his sculptures, which combine aesthetics and ethics, Aron Demetz explores how humans come together with natural elements. In the piece featured in this exhibition, we see two human figures, a man and a woman, both carved out of the trunk of a large redwood tree. Rooted in what remains of the tree, their presence seems to emerge from the depths of time. Static images that hint at a dynamic future, when a new approach based on symbiosis and “ecophilia” shall redefine our space and our existence in the world.
FEDERICO ORTICA AND ANDREA MARCHI
The Tree Room,, 2020
Multimodal installation, environmental dimension
Courtesy Federico Ortica and Andrea Marchi
FEDERICO ORTICA AND ANDREA MARCHIhttps://federicoortica.com/
This work is based on research into and the interpretation of scientific data regarding the Piegaro forest (belonging to the Margaritelli family), provided by PEFC Italy and the CMCC as part of the TRACE* Project (https://pefc.org/projects/knowledge/monitoring-tree-health www.pefc.org o www.cmcc.it). A series of information, relating to temperatures, humidity levels and lymph flow, resulting from the monitoring of a tree’s living conditions in the twelve months of 2019, has been transformed into sounds and images. This data flow has been transformed into an abstract and immersive visual experience, as well as into sound frequencies which are transmitted inside trees thanks to a number of transducers. This installation allows us to observe the life of a tree and to understand how changing climate conditions alter its vital signs
Federico Ortica: sound installation
Andrea Marchi: generative interface – visual interface
Mauro Graziani: Sonificazione dati – Sintesi sonora
in collaboration with Antonio Brunori PEFC
*Il progetto TRACE - Tree monitoring to support climate Adaptation and mitigation through Pefc Certification è stato ideato da Antonio Brunori e realizzato da Riccardo Valentini in collaborazione con lo staff del CMCC - Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici.
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